A Higher Loyalty by James Comey was published by Flatiron Books in 2018.  COURTESY PHOTO

A Higher Loyalty
by James Comey
Published by Flatiron Books 2018
Pages 290 Price $17.99

“Ethical leadership is about understanding the truth about humans and the need for understanding,” states James Comey, former director of the FBI in his book “A Higher Loyalty,” now out in paperback.

Comey says, “The title of this book is the culmination of  four decades in law as a federal prosecutor, business lawyer, and director of the FBI for three presidents.”

The title came to him after a dinner with President Trump in which the president demanded his personal loyalty to him as the FBI director over his duties to the American people. Comey thought he had a higher loyalty to the Constitution of the United States.

The book reads like a novel because of the unusual experiences with the law which Comey has had over the years.

He first discusses being Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York in 1992 when he prosecuted Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano, the highest ranking American mobster ever to become a federal witness. Gravano flipped to avoid a life sentence and taught him about  Mafia life and the La Costa Nostra.

Comey states.” There are ninety- four federal districts in the United States, each attorney is nominated by the president. The office in Manhattan is known as the Southern District of New York and is one of the largest.”

Comey graduated from the University of Chicago Law school in 1985 and applied to be a federal law clerk. At 25 he joined a Manhattan law firm and worked his way up in the legal system. His real life experiences could be created in a film in the future, better than a Tom Clancy novel.

Comey discusses many issues beyond his anger at President Trump which is clearly stated.One issue which bothered him concerns the Apple and Google companies’ decision in 2014 announcing that they would be moving their mobile devices to default encryption. He also could not see stopping judges (in appropriate cases) from ordering access to electronic devices.

The most controversial issue he discusses is Hillary Clinton’s emails. That is one reason I did not originally read his hard cover book. I had been angry he sent a letter to congress ten days before the election which I felt doomed Clinton’s election. But after hearing him on a town meeting conducted by CNN a few weeks ago, I realized he is very intelligent and I should read his book and find out what actually occurred.

He relates that the FBI investigation was based on two questions: whether classified documents were moved outside of classified systems or was classified topics discussed. He states, “Yes, classified topics were discussed but classified documents were not sent.” So the investigation was stopped.

In the summer of 2016 the FBI knew Russia was trying to influence the U.S. election. First, Russia sought to undermine confidence in American democracy. Second, Russia wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton. Third, they wanted to help Donald Trump win.

Clinton’s email issues came back to Comey’s office in October 2016. He was informed that private emails had been sent to Huma Abedin on her husband, Anthony Weiner’s computer, which contained thousands of Hillary’s emails.

On Oct. 28, Comey sent a letter to congress that a new investigation on Hillary’s emails had begun because of new information that just came in. It took 10 days to have his team go over them and nothing new was discovered. The find was just a duplicate of emails they had read or not relevant. On Nov. 5 Comey wrote to congress a second letter saying the investigation was closed and they did not find any new infringements. This second letter got to congress Nov. 6. However, the election was Nov. 7 and Clinton lost. None of the new emails were relevant or changed the case. What a tragic mess.

The issue was to speak or to conceal and Comey chose to speak. He thought he was saving the nation. It is up to you, the reading public, to evaluate his book and make up your own mind about his choice. I must say after reading his book, he sounds believable and I am a democrat who voted for Hillary. It is worth reading his book to make up your own mind concerning his reasons for his actions. I was impressed with his intelligence, and his ability to stand alone.

***

The Lobster Lake Bandits, Mystery at Moosehead
by Tommy Carbone
Published by Burnt Jacket Publishing Co. 2018
Pages 342 Price $15. 95 paperback ($19.95 large print)

Refreshing and beautiful compared to the political chaos in Washington D.C. this year, is Tommy Carbone’s new book which goes back to nature in Maine. He  describes the beauty of the natural environment in northern Maine near the Moosehead Lake region.

The book opens with Joe Parker closing his camp in northern Maine for the season in late October of 1988, He drives back to civilization on a country road and stops in Abbott, for a doughnut and coffee. As he pulls out of the parking lot he thinks of Sarah Molloy, a young girl who he met at age 16 in Maine when she was vacationing with her parents. It was many years ago but he wondered if he would ever see her again.

Sarah Molloy, now a writer living in New York, is sent to the Maine to write a story for a struggling travel magazine.  She had been in Maine only once when she was 16 and had not been back for 32 years. Connecting with the Maine tourism office, she decides to attend the Annual Seaplane Fly-In. It sounded  like a good story, exactly what her travel magazine was looking for.

Sarah, a city girl, finds Maine a culture shock in its slow pace and rural setting when she arrives. It is beautiful but quiet. There are no traffic sounds, sirens, or trash trucks with their constant noises as heard in New York at night. Tomorrow she will start the article.

Joe Parker next morning needs to meet with the Seaplane Fly-In committee.This year he was a volunteer to check in the pilots for their flying events. He stops at a restaurant for lunch and meets Sarah.They are introduced and Sarah says, ”I am sure you don’t remember me but you saved my life once when I was 16. My name is Sarah Molloy.” He certainly does remember her, but remains quite casual about it, characteristic of Maine people who understate their accomplishments.

Now she was a mature woman and a writer and back to Maine to write about the state. So he is delighted to give her a tour to discuss the background of the Seaplane Fly-In event for her article. Sarah snaps photos and asks many questions. One Question which she asks is, “Why is it called the Seaplane Fly-In if the planes are landing on a lake and not an ocean?” Joe answers, “Its a matter of semantics. Seaplanes are more on the lines of flying boats. They land on their hull in the water. Floatplanes have floats and land elevated above the water.”

Sarah wanted to see the Parker family camp which she remembers in her youth. Walking with Sarah and friends through the woods and thinking back to his youth, Joe talks of his memories of being 16 himself in 1956.  A crazy excitement in the air that fall occurred because a robbery of more than a million dollars had taken place in Boston. A money depot was robbed in the North End of Boston by eleven men wearing masks. The FBI, Boston Police, and private investigators were searching for the robbers everywhere even in Maine.

Game warden Ford was on high alert and was determined to be the one to find the robbers. Ford, who knew every inch of the Moosehead Lake region searched for them. At the same time a group known as Red and the Lobster Lake Bandits were stealing perch in barrels as well as objects from closed summer camps. So two searches were going on in this fascinating mystery in the Maine woods at the same time.

The story of the search for the Boston robbers is told to Sarah as the group walks through the woods. Sarah being a journalist listened carefully about the robbery mystery, but also asked good questions about Joe Parker. She finds out that Joe is a retired art teacher, who does illustrations for a newspaper in Bangor, volunteers for activities in Greenville connected to planes, has a family camp at Lobster Lake, and is a widower.  Sarah begins to think, “There are many stories to write in Maine, even a series.”

The author, Tommy Carbone, writes well with warmth and an obvious love of nature as he captures visually in words the beautiful northern Maine countryside. He came to Maine in 1992 on a vacation  trip after college. Within a couple months he moved to Maine permanently. For over 25 years he has lived in Maine  and has vacationed in the Moosehead Lake area in a rustic camp deep in the northern woods. His writing comes from his authentic experiences and love of northern, Maine.

In the novel the author also uses flashbacks which are experienced in the youth of Joe, the chief character. They describe Joe’s experiences with his dad in the Maine woods. For example Joe faces a lynx on the Beaver Creek Trail by himself on his way to meet his dad. His description of the lynx as they stare at each other measuring each other’s strengths is mesmerizing,    because neither Joe or the Lynx move. They are equal strengths.

The book does say that it is a fictional novel and yet one can’t help feel that the stories are from real life. Some people in the story may have been created from his imagination, but there are real locations and some real people. For example the author does mention John Ford Sr., a  game warden who died recently who wrote a book about his northern Maine experiences titled ”Suddenly the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good.” I know Ford is a real  person because I reviewed his book many months ago and loved it. He was a natural story teller.

Carbone too is a natural story teller in his novel about northern, Maine. His description and dialogue make the characters come alive. The reader feels they are getting to know the real people of Maine who do heroic feats every day and never make a big deal about their actions.

Hunting down bandits who are poachers and the search for robbers associated with a Boston robbery is the focus of the book. However, I liked best the part about the relationship between Joe Parker and Sarah. Hope the author writes more about their relationship in a future book. I also liked hand sketched maps of the location and subtle drawings of nature. I loved the whole book and recommend it highly.